The Meade Memorial’s Strange Journey

The George Gordon Meade memorial, a statue of the famed — but controversial — Civil War general with several allegorical figures behind him, has been on on Pennsylvania Ave.  in Washington within site of the  U.S. Capitol since 1983.  However, it went through a strange journey to get to its final location.

One of the last Civil War monuments in the city, the memorial was funded by the state of Pennsylvania in 1913 after members of the GAR and Society of the Army of the Potomac petitioned it for support.    It took 14 more years before the memorial was dedicated, a time of contentious wrangling over designs and location.  President Calvin Coolidge dedicated it on October 19, 1927, and it stood at its first location on 3rd st. near Independence Avenue until 1969.  That year, because of construction on the National Mall, the memorial was dismantled and sent to its second location, a storage facility in northeast Washington.

There is sat until in the 1980s Pennsylvania congressman William Goodling and the Gettysburg Civil War Round Table petitioned the National Park Service to return it to public view.  The formal re-dedication of the memorial at its third location was on October 3, 1984.

The memorial features Meade surrounded by several allegorical figures, and “Loyalty” and “Chivalry” are seen removing the cloak of battle from him.  Above Meade’s head is the gold finial of the seal of the state of Pennsylvania, and below his feet on the pavement is the inscription, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to General George Gordon Meade, who commanded the Union forces at Gettysburg.”

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Author: geneofva

Author of "Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era," and of the upcoming "Lincoln, Antietam, and a Northern Lost Cause."

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